Efforts to silence conservative group thwarted at Wichita State
- Wichita State University’s Student Supreme Court reversed a decision Thursday to deny recognition to a popular libertarian student group because of its allegedly “dangerous” views.
- The school's Vice President for Student Affairs initiated the appeal by filing a complaint accusing the Student Senate of hypocrisy and hostility to free speech.
Wichita State University’s Student Supreme Court reversed a decision Thursday to deny recognition to a popular libertarian student group because of its allegedly “dangerous” views.
As reported by Campus Reform , the school’s then-unofficial Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter was denied official club status in a Student Government vote of 8-16-5 after some senators labeled the group as unfit for having a presence on campus.
“Although I am someone who absolutely believes in free speech and activism and being able to speak up, what we have seen from this organization is dangerous,” Student Senator Sandra Carlo remarked when lobbying against a resolution that would bring the group to campus, with one of her peers, Senator Zubair Kahn, arguing that “there are other ways” to “have a libertarian organization on campus.”
According to The Sunflower, however, the decision to deny recognition to YAL has now been overturned after Vice President for Student Affairs Teri Hall filed a complaint with the Student Supreme Court.
“By not passing that resolution, you violated everything you’re supposed to stand for as Student Government,” Hall contended at Thursday’s meeting. “You talk about not discriminating, and you discriminated against them.”
Hall went on to criticize some senators who argued that YAL should have been denied recognition because the group is known for bringing controversial speakers to campus, reminding them that “universities are built on freedom of expression and freedom of speech.”
Ari Cohn, director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) Defense Program, praised the Student Supreme Court for its reversal, describing it as a victory for First Amendment principles.
“We are please that the Supreme Court of the Wichita State University Student Government did the right thing and reversed the student government’s unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination,” he asserted in a press release. “Hopefully the senate learned the lesson that it cannot unilaterally violate the Constitution without being held accountable.”
The now-recognized Wichita State YAL chapter thanked Hall for “standing up for what is right” in a statement on its Facebook page, praising “the College Republicans and College Democrats for standing opposed to the unconstitutional decision” and acknowledging the support of those who made phone calls and wrote letters protesting the group’s initial rejection.
“We are encouraged by this decision, but we are still committed to advancing liberty on campus,” the statement concluded.
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